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These Sikh Americans are paving a way for diversity in sports

Back in 2014, Darsh Singh stepped onto the NCAA court as the first-ever Sikh American basketball player the league had e...

It wasn’t easy. Clad in a turban, he was targeted, experiencing his fair share of racism. At games, people would tell him to “go back to his country,” cut his hair, or take off his turban. But he persisted, petitioning to the NCAA to allow him to wear his turban, a vital part of him and his religion. The league determined it was okay, and he started playing for Trinity University with a matching turban tied around his head.

Which is when the real battle began. In the crowd there was jeering. On social media, racist comments that mistook him for Muslim. Someone made a meme with the caption: Nobody at school wants to guard Muhammad, he’s too explosive. 

But through negativity came a social media movement that bubbled up. People started tweeting out #BeLikeDarsh, celebrating him and diversity. His friends came out to write against hate.

“I know this guy and his name’s not ‘Muhammad,’ wrote Darsh’s friend, Greg Worthington. “He’s not Arab, he’s Punjabi. He’s not even Muslim, he’s a Sikh. His name is Darsh Singh and he’s a US citizen, born and bred. That jersey he’s wearing in this pic, it currently sits in a Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC because he made US history as the NCAA’s first turbaned Sikh-American basketball player for Trinity University in my hometown of San Antonio.”

While there has been positivity that came from this ordeal, it’s troubling to think that a lack of diversity in sports would lead to such ignorance. Which comes to the bigger issue at hand: There needs to be more diversity in sports.

But it doesn’t necessarily start and end with athletes, rather, translates to sports fans, coaches, agents, and more, who determine who should and shouldn’t be on their teams. Countless articles have pointed out how there’s a lack of people of color in decision-making positions. An article in the Bleacher Report summed up how all major league sports were egregiously lacking diversity with their coaches. We know by now that having a diverse array of men and women is essential to bringing fair opportunities to all types of people.

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